May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month, and in our home, it is a big deal. Today, I am going to share some information about brain tumors, our story, and how you can get involved this month to help raise money for brain tumor research and raise awareness.
Information About Brain Tumors
The following information and statistics about brain tumors were taken from the American Brain Tumor Association’s website.
Brain tumors are the:
- leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children (males and females) under age 20 (leukemia is the first).
- second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males ages 20-39 (leukemia is the first).
- fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in females ages 20-39.
Brain Tumor Statistics:
- Nearly 70,000 new cases of primary brain tumors will be diagnosed this year.
- More than 4,600 children between the ages of 0-19 will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year.
- Brain and central nervous system tumors are the most common cancers among children ages 0-19.
- There are nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. living with a brain tumor.
- This year, nearly 14,000 people will lose their battle with a brain tumor.
- There are more than 120 types of brain tumors.
- Meningiomas represent 34% of all primary brain tumors, making them the most common primary brain tumor.
- Gliomas, a broad term which includes all tumors arising from the gluey or supportive tissue of the brain, represent 30% of all brain tumors and 80% of all malignant tumors.
- Glioblastomas represent 17% of all primary brain tumors, and 54% of all gliomas.
- Astrocytomas represent 7% of all primary brain tumors.
- Astrocytomas and glioblastomas combined represent 76% of all gliomas.
- Nerve sheath tumors (such as acoustic neuromas) represent about 9% of all primary brain tumors.
- Pituitary tumors represent 13% of all primary brain tumors.
- Lymphomas represent 2% of all primary brain tumors.
- Oligodendrogliomas represent 2% of all primary brain tumors.
- Medulloblastomas/embryonal/primitive tumors represent 1% of all primary brain tumors.
- The majority of primary tumors (34%) are located within the meninges, followed by those located within the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes of the brain (22%).
Our story began in February of 2012. The night Dave’s brain tumor was discovered was one of the scariest nights of my life. Dave had passed out 3 times in a period of 30 minutes, (we later learned they were mini-seizures) so we took him to urgent care. There were some concerns about a spot that showed up in his CAT scan, and he was taken to the hospital. After a series of tests, the doctors told us the scariest news we had ever received…Dave had a brain tumor.
Both of us were in shock, and were quickly thrown into a new world with a new vocabulary of terms: grades, gliomas, astrocytomas…it was all a bit overwhelming. We learned that Dave had a low-grade (grade II) astrocytoma located in his front left temporal lobe. His tumor was about the size of a peanut M&M when it was found. We always say, as far as brain tumors go, he got lucky.
The next several months were filled with appointments and more tests. He had a biopsy done in April of 1012, a craniotomy in September of 2012 in an attempt to remove the tumor (it was unsuccessful due to the location of the tumor), and received radiation treatments in December of 2012 and January of 2013 in hopes to maintain the size of the tumor. The result of all of this is that his tumor actually shrunk slightly in size as a result of the radiation (better outcome than expected), and it has not grown since.
Dave’s outlook is good. He is able to live his life with minimal side-effects, such as an occasional stutter, trouble finding words, or trouble remembering something. Most people have no idea he has a brain tumor unless they notice his scar, which after radiation ended is now mostly covered by his hair. Dave has found comfort in a local support group for those battling brain tumors, and does what he can to spread awareness. He has written about his experience on the blog in the form of a letter to our son.
How You Can Get Involved
Go Gray in May! You can show your support and raise awareness by changing your Facebook cover photo to one about Brain Tumor Awareness, even if for a day, to show your support. We have created the cover photo below, so feel free to use it!
Look for more ways to get involved at http://abta.org/ or http://braintumor.org/.